296

Boston Boy: Growing Up with Jazz

By

Sign in to view read count
Boston Boy: Growing Up with Jazz Boston Boy
Nat Hentoff
Paul Dry Books
ISBN: 096796752X

The concept of being "out there" is common in jazz parlance. It generally means breaking away from formal structure or tradition to discover something new. In essence, this is precisely what Nat Hentoff has spent his entire life trying to do. In his book, Boston Boy, he discusses his break from tradition by taking an in-depth look into his formative years.

Anyone who has ever explored jazz music is surely familiar Nat Hentoff. His work has been featured in Down Beat magazine, The Village Voice, and Jazz Times. He has also written several books and numerous album liner notes. Hentoff is undoubtedly a major figure in the jazz world. With Boston Boy, he explores more than his love for jazz music; he recognizes his desire to break away from convention.

Hentoff traces his desire to be unique from his earliest days of growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Boston. As a youngster, he discovered himself at odds with certain aspects of his heritage. On one level, he embraced the Judaism of his ancestors, but on another, he tried as hard as he could to break free from it. In a sense, this is the essence of the jazz music he eventually grows to love: staying rooted in the foundation, but going out on a limb as often as possible. His dissension, though, was not simply a departure from Judaism. He rebelled more against oppression. He reviled the anti-semitic attitudes and activities of many Boston locals.

On the surface, Boston Boy deals as much with Judaism and politics as it does jazz. Of course, jazz is a major element here; however, like his own personal development, he assimilates jazz over a period of time.The book's style, reflects the progression in Hentoff's early life. It begins with many shorter sentences and sentence fragments. As the text progresses, though, the style becomes more developed and intricate. Jazz forms an undercurrent, which becomes more and more an essential part of his being.

In a certain aspect, Boston Boy is somewhat misleading. A reader expecting to find reminiscences of jazz greats throughout the book might be somewhat disappointed. While he does mention befriending many artists, such as Jo Jones and Paul Desmond, this isn't the primary focus here. Boston Boy isn't a "look who I've met," but a "look who I am" memoir. Most of the discussion about jazz comes in the latter half of the book, as he started working in radio and later in print.

Boston Boy has a great deal to offer. Hentoff is a master stylist, who has the ability to capture a reader's attention. With Boston Boy, the reader leaves with not only a better appreciation of music, but a deeper sense of human understanding as well.

Shop

More Articles

Read The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good Book Reviews The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good
by Doug Collette
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965 Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge Book Reviews Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2017
Read Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight" Book Reviews Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie" Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "50 Summers of Music: Montreux Jazz Festival" Book Reviews 50 Summers of Music: Montreux Jazz Festival
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Dafnis Prieto: A World Of Rhythmic Possibilities" Book Reviews Dafnis Prieto: A World Of Rhythmic Possibilities
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!